Castigo dei serpenti

Scourge of the Serpents

Giambattista Tiepolo

Author
Giambattista Tiepolo
Venezia, 1696 - Madrid, 1770
Title
Scourge of the Serpents
Catalogue
343
Date
ca. 1732
Support
Canvas, 167 x 1355 cm
Provenance
Venice, church of Ss. Cosma e Damiano; state repositories (1810–1892); held by museum since 1892
Hall
Sala 6

The canvas covered the lower portion of the barco, or hanging choir, from whose grated windows the enclosed nuns would follow the religious services. The tale, punctuated by faux stucco frames embellished with gold ribbons, vine shoots, and fruit festoons, is articulated by a series of characters in audacious poses. The biblical episode of the bronze serpent, lifted on a rod by Moses to save the Jewish people from the scourge of venomous serpents sent by the Lord, is interpreted with tragic emphasis and extraordinary pictorial licence.